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Health & Balance

The "Food-Family Connection": Letting Go at Last

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continued...

And while I was still very young, I found it. I formed, and nurtured, and above all defended the "relationship" that became my lifeline: My close, loving relationship with food.

I believe now that the food I loved and could never get enough of, at least while I was stuffing myself with it, was the family I never got enough of. I even had my own "family" of favorite foods! Our "family meals" -- of course eaten alone and if possible out of sight of others -- included such delicacies as pizza, coconut cake, and pasta with rich, creamy sauces and lots and lots of cheese.

I felt happy and fulfilled while I ate the food I loved. And then, naturally, I was miserable, hating myself for what I had done. See a pattern here? Food was feeding not only my need for close relationships but also my need -- oh, how it hurts to admit this! -- to feel sorry for myself.

To feel like a victim.

Do you ever feel afraid to lose your excess weight? I sure did. And no wonder: Losing the weight meant losing the one close relationship I could depend on to always be there and make me feel good. So even when I did achieve a substantial weight loss, I gained it back quickly, usually with a few more pounds for good measure.

I even remember sometimes feeling a sense of relief about regaining my weight, even as I despaired at seeing my body swell and become distorted with fat again. I wonder if that sounds familiar to you, too.

Well, that's how I lived, how I got through life, for so many years. Then, in therapy, two big changes happened:

1) I learned that I was a pretty nice person after all, someone other people would generally like if they had the chance. So I didn't have to put up "permanent" defenses like fat, humor at other people's expense, and isolating from others. I could relax and be myself, and most of the time things would be OK, just as they are for most people, most of the time.

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